Distance Learning Days Out: Literary Festivals for April


512px-Philip_Pullman_2005-04-16As an English tutor for Oxford Home Schooling, I know that sometimes home learning can be a lonely business. But, just because you are not in school, it does not mean that you cannot treat yourself to an educational outing. And a visit to a book festival can be a way to have a great day out and become inspired at the same time. So, with that in mind, here is my round up of Literary Festivals for April.

If you are near Cambridge between 1st and 6th April you can visit the Cambridge Literary Festival. Check out the website at http://www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com to see what there is on offer. Highlights include seeing Carol Ann Duffy, our present Poet Laureate; poets Gillian Clarke and Owen Shears celebrating the work of Dylan Thomas and, for those like me who have never really grown up, a rendition of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts.

Later in the month, we are spoilt for choice as Chipping Norton (Oxfordshire), Scarborough and Stratford all present their offerings.

Scarborough’s main event is Books by the Beach http://www.booksbythebeach.co.uk which includes talks by established authors including Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, a fascinating story of love, individuality and indulgence. This is placed alongside ‘Scarborough Flare’ which gives a platform to new writers.

Stratford Literary Festival www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk is celebrating its seventh year in 2014. The line-up reflects the commemoration this year of the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. The Great War Diary of Harry Drinkwater looks very interesting and on 27th April two further events explore the theme. There is a reading of the poetry of Siegfried Sassoon and a talk by journalist Tim Butcher on Gavrillo Princip, the Sarajevo assassin whose fatal bullet was the catalyst for the slaughter. There are also the expected talks on Shakespeare, and what will surely be an amusing appearance by Michael Rosen. Writers’ Workshops are available, too, if you fancy ‘sharing and comparing’ with others. If I could make it, I would be signing up for the talk by Gerald Seymour, author of Harry’s Game, who showed through this novel how current affairs could collide with literature to enhance everyone’s understanding of conflict.

The Chipping Norton Literary Festival takes place at the same time (24th – 27th April) www.chiplitfest.com. There is an extensive list of stars appearing, including India Knight and John Lloyd, whilst Lauren Child is there for the younger visitors. If you took your KS2 English SATs in 2013, you will be familiar with the work of Mary Hooper, whose story At the Sign of the Sugared Plum was featured in the booklet about the Great Plague. She will be there to discuss her work.

If you get the chance, a visit to any one of these events will be well worth the effort and a valuable addition to your Oxford Home Schooling study course.

Helen Coniam

English/ History tutor.